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Let’s suppose that you have a licensed copy of an Windows XP but lately you have installed-activated/uninstalled it for several times. At some point the Microsoft Activation Server just get bored and says “OK, if you want me to activate your license then please pick up the phone and call me!”.
What if you get bored (or you are just lazy) to call Microsoft and to justify yourself and to ask them “Please, can you activate the copy that I bought legally? Yes, I have an invoice, in fact I have 10 invoices because it happens that I bought more copies than I’m using right now. No, I’m not a software theft, I cross my heart and hope to die!”
Well, in that situation (let me make myself clear: when you both have the legal right to use that piece of software and you don’t break the EULA) you could just try to exploit one of the Windows XP weaknesses. In fact you could try to exploit more than one, I’m sure they are.
You could find yourself in one of the following situations:
- the 30 days expired so you cannot access the Desktop anymore
- you are within those 30 days time limit but you want to get rid of this issue ASAP
Your 30 days have expired
So you got a message like the one below:
You could also get a message like the one below, I meet that situation several times so far, unfortunately I haven’t tested to see if the trick works also for this particular situation, I guess/hope it do:
Anyway, so you either have exceeded those 30 days when you have been supposed to activate you copy of Windows or you lately have changed your hardware so that Windows have started to annoy you with the activation message dialog.
No matter in which situation you are just press Yes button, like you are willing to activate your Windows copy. A new window like the one below will open:
By pressing simultaneous “Windows key” and “u” (WinKey+u) you will open a window called “Microsoft narrator” where you can click on the hyperlink called “Microsoft web site” that will open your default web browser.
Note: if by pressing WinKey+u it opens another window named “Narrator” then, in order to get the “Microsoft narrator” window, you have to right-click that window title-bar and to choose “About narrator” pop-up menu.
So the “Microsoft narrator” window should look like this:
The idea at this point is to get opened the IE browser because the browser has a issue that we are going to exploit it. So, if your default browser is Firefox/Chrome/Opera/etc we should do some extra steps to open your IE browser because that one we are going to hack. If your browser is just IE then skip the steps below to the “IE browser opened”.
Not opening IE browser
- enter “C:\” in your browser URL bar; your browser should show the content of C:\ directory
- navigate to the C:\Windows\System32 directory then click “taskmgr.exe” to download it; after it have downloaded just run that application (taskmgr.exe)
- on Task Manager choose File->Run then enter “iexplore.exe” and hit OK; that will open your IE browser
IE browser opened
In URL bar enter “C:\” then hit OK. If you are not using IE8 then that command should exploit a weakness of IE7 (or earlier) which in turn will “crash the Windows” in that way that it will load the Desktop, the task bar, everything.
Note: for some reasons Windows keeps locking itself every 30-60 seconds so you won’t be able to see the Desktop nor the task bar. Just repeat the step mentioned at the paragraph above (enter “C:\” in IE browser URL bar).
So, you will gain a time frame of 30-60 seconds of fully functional Windows when you will be able to launch whatever program you want, even if 30-60 seconds later the Windows will lock it again (your application is already up an running so you are happy).
- I’ve seen that if you keep that “Windows Product Activation” window opened, then the Windows doesn’t look totally, so for example I had IE opened and it remained opened for an undefined time, but when I close (chose OK button) the “Window Product Activation” window the Windows automatically logged me off so I had to begin the whole process from the beginning.
- If you start your Windows in “Safe mode” then the Windows Product Activation does not appear any more (regarding the safe-mode).
- Some interesting info here.
This trick just helps you to use your Windows copy in the emergency situations; I would not recommend anyone working like this because it could just prove to be a nightmare.
You are within those 30 days time limit
In this situation you are reminded (frequently enough) that you have only 30 (or less) days left for activation. The trick to bypass this situation is the simplest and the most effective one.
- open Registry Editor (Start->Run then enter regedit and push OK button)
- open the registry key at the location HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\WPAEvents
- edit the OOBETimer key value and set its value to “ff d5 71 d6 8b 6a 8d 6f d5 33 93 fd”
- right-click on the same key WPAEvents and select “Permissions”
- select SYSTEM group/user and check all DENY options (we won’t allow XP to mess with us anymore, in fact we deny it firmly :o)
- click Advanced button then uncheck “Inherit from parent the permission…”, press OK, when prompted at next step just answer with “Copy”
- in “Permission entries” select the SYSTEM then choose “Edit…”; check all the “Deny” permissions the OK+Apply
It should not ask you anymore for software activation. In fact you could run Start->All Programs -> Activate Windows and you should get an response message like “Windows is already activated”. If not working then just try again, maybe you have missed something on the way.
If you are interested on Windows Vista/7 license activation you could read also an article I wrote about this.
[!] WARNING [!]
I would not recommend to anyone to try this procedure to gain the access to use an unlicensed copy of Windows. In fact, when dealing with licensed software (like Windows), I would strongly recommend you to contact your software provider to ask it if you are allowed to do something like that or not. I wrote this article only for myself for research/educational purposes so that in case of emergency to be able to rescue my licensed system.